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Thread: Drug Lord Brother of Afghan President Assassinated

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Feb 2007

    Default Drug Lord Brother of Afghan President Assassinated

    The powerful half brother of the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, was shot dead on Tuesday by a close family associate, according to Karzai family friends who were nearby.

    Ahmed Wali Karzai, the provincial council chairman for Kandahar, who was the most powerful person in the province if not all of southern Afghanistan, was killed by Sardar Mohammed, a regular visitor to Mr. Karzai’s residence in central Kandahar, witnesses said.

    Initial reports had said he was killed by a bodyguard.

    Mr. Mohammed was a commander of security posts near Karza just south of the city of Kandahar, according to Mr. Karzai’s driver.

    The killing shook the power structure in Kandahar, which is built around the Karzai family and its nexus of connections to power brokers across southern Afghanistan including narcotics smugglers and insurgents. It appeared likely to set off a struggle for control as members of the Karzai family and leaders from other influential clans jockey for power, and some Western officials here said they anticipated more assassinations. Whether the security situation as a whole deteriorates is hard to foresee because much depends on President Karzai’s choices about how to control the situation in the province.

    President Karzai held a news conference in Kabul with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France barely two hours after the shooting and, speaking in a steady voice, confirmed his half brother’s death.

    “This is the life of Afghan people, this sorrow is in every Afghan home, everyone of us has this sorrow,” he said.

    He then turned to Mr. Sarkozy and said, “We welcome Mr. Sarkozy and hope he forgives us for not speaking with a smile today.”

    President Karzai was a stalwart supporter of his half brother, defending him strongly when he was accused by opponents and Westerners of involvement with the drug trade and corrupt security companies.

    The assailant was killed almost immediately by bodyguards, according to people close to Ahmed Wali Karzai, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject.

    The shooting happened at 11 a.m., witnesses said. Mr. Karzai was shot twice in the head with a pistol at point-blank range. A provincial official, Hajji Agha Lalai, was in the next room at the time and helped carry Mr. Karzai on a makeshift stretcher to a car and accompanied him to the hospital.

    “I was holding him and I was not very sure he would survive,” he said. “It was confirmed in the hospital that he was dead.”

    The motivation for the assassination was unclear. The Taliban claimed responsibility almost immediately, but several leaders in Kandahar said they doubted the claims.

    The killing took place as Ahmed Wali Karzai was receiving petitioners, provincial colleagues and friends at the house in central Kandahar that was the city’s political center of gravity as well as his residence. More than 60 people were there at the time of the shooting, witnesses said. Scores of people visited Mr. Karzai every day to seek his advice and support on business matters, political dealings and tribal disputes.

    Mr. Karzai had survived at least one other assassination attempt. In May 2009, he said his motorcade was ambushed by Taliban gunmen as it traveled from eastern Afghanistan toward the capital, Kabul. One of his bodyguards was killed in the hail of fire from automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.

    A month earlier, five suicide bombers stormed the provincial council offices in Kandahar and killed 13 people, including 2 officials in the provincial government. Mr. Karzai was not in the building at the time.

    Mir Wali, a former legislator from Helmand who said he met with Mr. Karzai for about 30 minutes just before he was killed, was on the second floor of the building when the shooting started. “We came out and we saw Ahmed Wali being carried out and Sardar Mohammed lying on the floor,” he said. “Shooting was continuing.”.

    For years, the American military has believed that public anger over government-linked corruption has helped swell the Taliban’s ranks, and that Ahmed Wali Karzai played a central role in that corruption. He has repeatedly denied any links to Afghan drug trafficking.

    According to three American military officials, in April 2009 Gen. David D. McKiernan, then the top American commander in Afghanistan, told subordinates that he wanted them to gather any evidence that might tie the president’s half brother to the drug trade. “He put the word out that he wanted to ‘burn’ Ahmed Wali Karzai,” one of the military officials said.
    Ultimately, though, the military could not gather enough hard proof to convince other American officials of the alleged crimes, and backed off efforts to remove him from power.

    In 2009, current and former American officials said Ahmed Wali Karzai had been receiving regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency for much of the previous eight years. The agency paid him for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around Kandahar.

    He must have outlived his usefulness to the US.
    Last edited by witchcurlgirl; July 12th, 2011 at 08:44 AM.
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